Nolasco, Bonifacio star in exhibition win

Nolasco, Bonifacio star in exhibition win

Nolasco, Bonifacio star in exhibition win
Box score

MIAMI -- Jose Reyes set the tempo early. Emilio Bonifacio provided some unexpected power, and Ricky Nolasco was on point.

There were a lot of encouraging signs for the Marlins on Wednesday night in their second straight exhibition at Marlins Park.

Behind Bonifacio's two-run homer and Nolasco's three scoreless innings, the Marlins defeated Florida International University, 5-1.

For the second straight night, the Marlins played host to a local college team as they give their new stadium a trial run.

"I think it's great for the city of Miami," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's very good for the kids we played against. I have a couple of friends who play for FIU. I think it's a good thing. You don't hear from my coaching staff. You don't hear any complaints from our players. I think it's all good."

Ticket sales were capped at 15,000 to measure how the stadium would handle crowd flow.

The overall atmosphere of the new park represents a new beginning for the Marlins.

"It's beautiful," Nolasco said of the stadium. "Different vibe. Everything is different. Just adrenaline level. I can only imagine when it's full. It's going to be exciting. It was exciting today."

The Marlins responded quickly, grabbing an early lead.

Reyes made his impact felt in the first inning, with his glove and bat. The four-time All-Star shortstop snared a backhanded hop, and he rifled a strong throw to nab Nathan Burns in the top of the inning.

At the plate, Reyes singled sharply up the middle, and he scored on a double-play groundout by Giancarlo Stanton.

Reyes and Bonifacio present a dynamic top of the order for Miami.

"That's $100 million," Guillen said of Reyes, who signed a six-year, $106 million deal in December. "That's what we expect. Those two guys, they're going to make a lot of things happen, man. You cannot find Reyes everywhere. This kid brings his best stuff, every day, day in, day out. That's contagious. He makes people around him play better. He makes people around him have fun playing the game. It's fun to watch."

About 2 1/2 hours before the game, MLB informed the Marlins to notify FIU that aluminum bats couldn't be used. The night before, the University of Miami played with their metal bats.

"I think Major League Baseball is protecting their players," Guillen said. "That's their job, make sure nobody gets hurt. But we've been doing this for 20 years. But I think it's good for the [college] kids, to hit with a wood bat and Major League pitchers on the mound. I think it was a positive way."

The Marlins supplied FIU with wood bats.

"I was surprised by that," Nolasco said. "I definitely wasn't looking forward to seeing aluminum. I tip my cap to FIU for going to wood. I was expecting aluminum, and then I looked to the on-deck circle warming up, and I did a double take. I was like, 'Oh, ok.' "

Nolasco breezed through three innings, striking out three while allowing one hit. Of his 31 pitches, 22 were strikes.

FIU's Roche Woodard doubled with two outs off Nolasco in the third inning. He was the only baserunner the Miami starter allowed.

Whether the park will favor pitchers over hitters is tough to measure through two exhibition games.

"It's kind of hard, unless you're facing a big league lineup," Nolasco said. "Nothing against those guys, but the pop is different. The bat-speed is different. ... We'll see how everything works out. We'll work out the kinks, and hopefully it is a pitchers' park."

Even though the Marlins were playing college athletes, Nolasco kept the same focus as if he were going against a big league club.

"The preparation and everything is still the same," the right-hander said. "It doesn't matter who you're out there pitching against. My preparation is the same; you can't hold back or anything."

In the third inning, the Marlins added two more runs. Jeff Dominguez singled and Bonifacio laced a two-run homer to right field.

Brett Hayes provided a two-run single in the fourth inning.

Closer Heath Bell made his first spring appearance, working a perfect fourth inning.

It was before the first pitch of the game was thrown when Bell first made an impact. Putting the exhibition against a college club into perspective, the All-Star closer jogged to the FIU players who had gathered in right field.

After a brief couple of words, Bell invited the college athletes to stretch with the pros. So the FIU squad went through some warmup exercises with the Marlins.

"It was spur of the moment," Bell said. "I saw them. I was really excited, we were in a Major League ballpark. I ran over, and said, 'Hey, guys, how are you doing?' I started talking with them, and said, 'Why don't you stretch with us?' It was purely fun. Spring Training is always a grind. It was one of those things where I thought we could bring some fun and laughter. It worked out.

"If any of my teammates think I'm crazy and they weren't too sure about that, get used to it."

Up next for Marlins: After two hectic split-squad days in a row, the Marlins get back into a semblance of a routine when they travel to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets. Carlos Zambrano will be making his Grapefruit League debut, working with a 45-pitch pitch count. Mike Pelfrey goes for the Mets. Reyes is not making the trip, but Hanley Ramirez is scheduled to play.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.